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anonymous Elephants July 17, 2007 12:34 PM

The NOBLE AFRICAN ELEPHANT has not been treated well in Africa. They were not domesticated and trained and worshipped as in Asia. The Africans did not have much to supplement their diet with protein. So, they used the elephant for meat. The African Elephant, therefore, was seem as meat to be hunted and killed. Elephants lived among a human population that was often sparse. The elephants existence was unrestricted and not regulated by humans. Humans did not try to make many changes to the environment. Elephants stayed away from the human population, rarely moved about the humans' croplands and were not considered competition with livestock.The AFRICAN PEOPLE, who had seen the elephant, did respect their strength, wisdom, and benevolence and power. The people did not attempt to have a close bond with an elephant. In the terrain in which elephants lived in Africa, elephants could not be used very often in epic battles or as working animals as they were used in Asia. The African Elephants are more difficult to train than the Asian Elephant. They are trainable, however, and have been used in zoos and in battles.The MAJOR CAUSE of the lost of more than half of the elephant population in Africa is the massacre of elephants for the ivory trade. Between 1979 and 1989, the elephant population in Africa fell from 1.34 million to 625,000. In this ten year span, East Africa lost more than 52% of its elephant population. Kenya went from having about 130,000 to less than 17,000. Mature males were targeted more often due to the length of their tusks. Ivory trade has been suspended in most countries (legally), but is still carried on illegally. The residents in the villages in the African countries with elephant population, often see the elephant as a pest--ravaging their crops and and taking up valuable land that could be used for crops or habitation. Government officials, the military and the police are often corrupt and enable the export of ivory by means of false documents and looking the other way. Even if ivory loses its value, will the African people let the elephants proliferate is another question to be considered.  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:34 PM

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anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:34 PM

Look, Really See--Really Feel the Beauty, Elegance, Dignity and Passion of the African Elephant  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:36 PM

Family: ELEPHANTIDAESize/Weight/Height
Females, or cows, will reach a height of 9-10 feet tall at the shoulder. Males, or bulls, will grow to 10-12 feet tall at the shoulder. The cows are smaller, weighing 8,000-10,000 lbs. Bulls will weigh between 10,000 and 12,000 lbs. when full grown.Life Span/Life Expectancy
60 - 70 yearsColor
The skin of an elephant can be from 0.25"-1.5" thick to withstand blistering sun and torrential rains.

The basic color is a brownish-gray. But it will take on the shade of the local dirt (red, black, even dusty white) which they throw liberally on themselves to protect their skin from sunburn and insect bites.

The African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) is found in most African countries excluding the Sahara and tropical rainforest of the Congo.

African elephants live in a wide variety of habitats from the desert regions of western Niger and the Etosha Pans of Namibia to the grassy savannahs of East Africa westward into the forests of Central Africa.

The other African species is the reclusive Forest Elephant (Loxodonta Cyclotis). This species lives in small numbers in the dense rainforest of the Congo.

As the name implies, the bush Elephant principally inhabits the open savanna, but also ranges through forest fringe, swamp/river fringe and mountain regions up to the snowline.

African elephants are found in Africa south of the Sahara, throughout most of central, eastern, and southern africa.

Geographic Distribution: African elephants live in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, although their range is now broken into patches. Small numbers of forest elephants live in dense equatorial forests from Zaire west to Mauritania, while savanna elephants are far more widespread in drier woodlands and savannas.

Savanna elephants are now most common in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa.

The location of African elephants are in the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi (ex), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia (ex), Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau (ex), Kenya, Lesotho (ex), Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland (ex) {reint}, Tanzania, United Republic of, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Its diet consists of purely vegetation in the form of grasses, tree limbs, tubers, fruits, vines and shrubs.

They will spend up to 16 hours of each day foraging for the 300+ pounds of vegetation they must consume to meet their nutritional needs. Their digestive system is geared towards processing massive quantities of bulk, of which only 45% is actually digested and used.

The partially digested feces are an ecologically important method of seed dispersal, and one species of plant actually must be passed through an elephant`s gut in order to germinate and grow!

Diet: The African elephant eats between 300 and 500 pounds of vegetation every day. It consumes a widely varied diet of grass, tree bark and fruits. Soils are often consumed for their mineral content.

Usually a single baby elephant, or calf, is born to a female after a 20-22 month gestation. Twins are uncommon, but have been recorded.

A calf generally weighs 200-250 lbs. and is 2-3 feet tall. It will nurse for 1-2 years, nibbling on solids as early as six months.

If the calf is female, she will probably live her life within her family until she has calves of her own. Puberty can start as early as 11 years old. The female usually leaves to form her own family group.

She will often see her mature sisters and cousins at reunions when grazing ranges overlap or herds migrate.

A bull calf will live with the family until the age of 11 or 12. This is usually when he becomes very obnoxious and is driven out of the herd. He will live in loose association with other young bulls in "bachelor herds." He only enters the main herd to seek out estrus females.

Puberty in elephants can be delayed until age 16 or 17 if conditions are poor and adequate nutrition is unavailable. Calving intervals range from 3-8 years. This is also dependent on available food and water resources.

Bull elephants entering maturity will begin to experience a yearly condition known as "musth." It is basically a hormonal overload of testosterone which creates heightened aggression. It does not coincide with any particular season, but is individual to each bull. It will generally set in once a year and last from 1-6 months. Musth does not trigger breeding. Although musth bulls have the best chance to fight off other males and win breeding rights. Musth will serve to advance a bull`s rank within a group of bulls. This is evidenced by small musth bulls challenging and beating much larger, older non-musth bulls. Usually only one or two high-ranking bulls will reserve the right to breed any estrus females in a herd.

Elephants live in extended family groups which merge and separate according to seasons. The leader of each family is usually the largest, oldest and wisest cow called the matriarch.

Families of 9-10 animals are related to other individuals in other families. This is called a "bond group." Several bond groups will habitually reunite with each other several times a year when environmental conditions are good. This is generally after spring rains when there is an abundance of fresh grass. These bond groups are "clans" numbering 50 or more animals. These clans will form herds when migrating or gathering for spring grazing. The  [report anonymous abuse]

anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:39 PM

They may number into the hundreds of individuals.

Elephants are highly social animals who prefer to live in large, interactive groups. But they usually break off into smaller groups to more effectively utilize available food resources when conditions become poor. In this way they effectively decrease competition among themselves for food.

Elephants communicate by many different means, including visual displays (e.g - the classic elephant charge), chemical cues, tactile/touch displays, and a variety of sounds, including infrasound--sound too low in pitch for people to hear. Infrasound, produced in the larynx, can carry clearly over great distances--much farther than the loudest yell made by a human.

Researchers have noted that groups of elephants separated by several miles will often travel in synchrony. These group movements are probably coordinated by means of infrasound and chemical cues. Analysis of audio recordings has uncovered many distinct calls, meaning anything from "let`s go" to "I am in estrus - where are the bulls?"

Humans are only able to hear the uppermost range of the elephants' calls. These would be the roars, trumpets, rumbles and squeaks or chirps.

Among many visual displays, a curled under trunk and outspread ears signal threat. When combined with a loud trumpet or roar, this usually signals that aggression is forthcoming.

The sense of smell is the other dominant sense, besides hearing, that the elephant relies on. Water and fresh vegetation can be ascertained from far away. Elephants probably can recognize other individuals by the scent of their urine and feces.

All elephants possess two small holes in the roof of their mouths, called vomeronasal organs. These detect pheremones, especially important in the breeding process. Bull elephants can tell when a female elephant is sexually receptive (in estrus) from pheremones in her urine. Since she is in estrus for only three days or so every four years, this accurate analysis is imperative for maximum reproductive success.

The trunk is used to expand the elephant`s sense of touch. Elephants will caress, slap and grab each other in different situations. A ritual form of greeting is for each elephant to put the tip of their trunk into the other`s mouth. This probably transfers chemical cues as well as tactile sensations).

African elephant`s ears
The ears are quite large and serve two purposes. The large ear flap can serve as a directional receiver to help the animal to pinpoint the direction of incoming calls. The large veins latticing the back of the ear flap are just under the thin skin and serve as a radiator to dispel heat from the brain and rest of the body (spraying the ears with water increases the cooling effect).The Trunk
The trunk is a highly specialized organ consisting of the fusion and elongation of the nose and upper lip. It is a very delicate yet strong appendage, containing over 40,000 muscles and tendons. The sensitive tip ends in two fingerlike projections which can manipulate objects or pick up very small items. This trunk can also lift up objects of more than 400 pounds, and aids the elephant to reach plants that no other herbivore besides the giraffe can reach, allowing elephants to find food in areas that other animals cannot. Water (about 1.5 gallons) is sucked up more than halfway into the trunk and then blown into the mouth for a drink or onto the back for a cooling spray.Using Tools
Elephants have been observed to be inventive in the use of objects as tools. They will use sticks, grasped in the trunk, to scratch areas of their body that the trunk or tail cannot reach. They have been seen digging with their tusks to reach underground water in drought areas, and after drinking their fill, will use a chewed up bundle of tree fibers as a cork to plug the hole to prevent it drying up, and they will continue to return to the well repeatedly to drink, corking it up each time.  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:40 PM

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anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:41 PM

ElephantsSumatran elephantSumatran elephant - Indonesia
photo: WWF-Canon /
Volker KEESElephants are the largest living land animals, with adults sometimes weighing six tons or more. Of the two species, the African elephant is larger and more plentiful than the Asian elephant. But both are threatened by shrinking living space and poaching for the ivory trade.

Modern elephants are the last survivors of the old and varied "trunked" family of mammals that once ranged the entire planet. These heirs of such mighty creatures as the extinct mastodon and mammoth and occupy a unique place in their habitat in Africa and Asia. As huge and powerful consumers, elephants are considered to be a keystone species in their environment, affecting biodiversity in the regions they inhabit. They open up areas of forest where light-dependent plants can take hold, for example, creating habitat for grazing animals. Such elephant roadways also act as fire breaks or drainage conduits and are littered with partially digested, ready-to-germinate seeds conveniently fertilized in elephant dung. The wells elephants dig in search of water are used by virtually all other wildlife in a given region, particularly during periods of drought. On the other hand, elephant activity can also be seen as destructive, particularly under the pressures of human landscape transformation that force the animals into smaller areas. As habitat shrinks, their voracious appetite can bring them more frequently into conflict with people.

WWF is working in Asia and Africa to protect this magnificent and vital animal and to preserve its shrinking habitat.

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anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:42 PM

An African Elephant near the border of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania.  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:48 PM

Image:African Bush Elephant Mikumi.jpg  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:49 PM

Image:Baby elephants3.jpg  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:50 PM

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anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:52 PM

Physical Characteristics

The African elephant is the largest living land mammal. Of all its specialized features, the muscular trunk is perhaps the most extraordinary. It serves as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, and digging. The tusks are another notable feature of both males and females. Elephants are right or left-tusked, using the favored tusk more often, thus shortening it from constant wear. Tusks differ in size, shape and angle and researchers can use them to identify individuals.


Elephants can live in nearly any habitat that has adequate quantities of food and water. Their ideal habitat consists of plentiful grass and browse.


Elephants are gregarious and form small family groups consisting of an older matriarch and several generations of relatives. These family groups are often visited by mature males, who check for females in estrus. Several interrelated family groups may inhabit an area and know each other well. When they meet at watering holes and feeding places, they greet each other affectionately.

Smell is the most highly developed sense, but sound deep growling or rumbling noises is the principle means of communication. Some researchers think that each individual has its signature growl by which it can be distinguished. Sometimes elephants communicate with an ear-splitting blast when in danger or alarmed, causing others to form a protective circle around the younger members of the family group. Elephants make low-frequency calls, many of which, though loud, are too low for humans to hear. These sounds allow elephants to communicate with one another at distances of five or six miles.

Usually only one calf is born to a pregnant female. An orphaned calf will usually be adopted by one of the family's lactating females or suckled by various females. Elephants are very attentive mothers, and because most elephant behavior has to be learned, they keep their offspring with them for many years. Tusks erupt at 16 months but do not show externally until 30 months. The calf suckles with its mouth (the trunk is held over its head); when its tusks are 5 or 6 inches long, they begin to disturb the mother and she weans it. Once weaned usually at age 4 or 5, the calf still remains in the maternal group.

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Elephants consume about 5% of their body weight and drink 30-50 gallons of water per day. Young elephants must learn how to draw water up their trunks and pour it into their mouths. They eat an extremely varied vegetarian diet including grass, leaves, twigs, bark, fruit and seed pods.

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Predators and Threats

When AWF chose the elephant as its logo over 40 years ago, the elephant's survival was not a subject of great concern. Today, it is difficult for elephants to live outside protected parks as they are pressured by poachers and by the habitat loss that comes with increasing human settlement. For more than 40 years, AWF has been involved with elephant research in eastern and southern Africa, developing management strategies to minimize human-elephant conflict. Elephants are an essential component of African ecosystems, but when they are confined by park boundaries and human settlements, their impact can upset the ecological balance. Thus, the identification and protection of migration corridors and dispersal areas outside of parks is critical.

Did You Know?
  • The elephant is distinguished by its high level of intelligence, interesting behavior, methods of communication and complex social structure.
  • Elephants seem to be fascinated with the tusks and bones of dead elephants, fondling and examining them. The myth that they carry them to secret "elephant burial grounds," however, has no factual base.
  • Elephants are very social, frequently touching and caressing one another and entwining their trunks.
  • Elephants demonstrate concern for members of their families they take care of weak or injured members and appear to grieve over a dead companion.
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anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:53 PM

AWF Image Gallery

Image Description: Elephants consume about 5% of their body weight and drink 30-50 gallons of water per day. Young elephants must learn how to draw water up their trunks and pour it into their mouths.

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anonymous  July 17, 2007 12:54 PM

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anonymous  July 17, 2007 1:05 PM

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"Why would anyone harm these gentle giants"    "Everything is not about money in this world, money is the means for living not meaning of life"  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 17, 2007 1:07 PM

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anonymous Thank you July 18, 2007 9:31 AM

Thank you Sid,for sharing the articles and the beautiful pictures!  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 9:41 AM


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 July 20, 2007 9:16 PM

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 July 20, 2007 9:17 PM

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 July 22, 2007 6:09 AM

What do elephants eat more, grass or tree's?

While everyone agrees that elephants eat both grasses and leafy material from shrubs and trees, some debate has been ongoing in scientific circles as to whether elephants prefer to graze or to browse, and what influences their preferences. Information about what Kruger's elephants prefer to eat has recently been published by Jacqui Codron and her co-authors in the Journal of Mammalogy.

Codron collected fresh elephant dung samples throughout the park in both the wet and dry seasons from 2002 to 2004. To get precise measures of the amount of grasses to shrubby material, she subjected dung samples to chemical analysis that looked at the carbon and nitrogen levels in the dung.

By looking at the ratio of the different molecular weight carbon atoms, carbon-13 and carbon-12, the scientists can find out the ratio of woody plants to grasses eaten. This is possible because grasses and broad-leafed plants like trees and shrubs convert carbon dioxide into plant material using two different photosynthetic pathways.

The different photosynthetic methods produce different ratios of carbon-13 to carbon-12 in the plant matter, which is reflected in the dung that passes out of the elephants. By using dung, seasonal changes in diet can also be found in a non-invasive way.

The researchers also collected dung from another mixed feeder, the impala, for comparison, as well as dung from giraffe, kudu, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra to help show what levels of carbon atoms are present in pure grazers and browsers. For the purposes of the investigation, the park was divided into two broad climatic zones, the wetter south and the drier north.

Codron found that the elephants in the north of the park consistently eat more grass than elephants in the south, with northern elephants having a dry season diet of about 40 percent grass, compared to southern elephants eating about 10 percent grass.

They found that this trend is reversed in impalas, where southern impalas eat about 50 percent grass and northern ones about 35 percent grass. Looking at the results across seasons, elephants throughout the park ate more grass during the wet season.

However, the elephants in the south showed much more seasonal variation, switching from mainly browsing (10 percent grass) in the dry season to half browsing and half grazing in summer. During summer the impalas also stepped up their grass intake, with northern impalas now eating 65 percent grass and southern impalas eating 60 percent grass.

The amount of grass elephants in the north eat is interesting in light of the fact that the north of the park is covered in mopane trees while the south has almost none, and mopane trees are reported by other scientists to be a preferred food for elephants. The authors of the paper discuss previous work carried out on elephants and mopane trees, which has shown that young mopane leaves are favoured by elephants because of their high protein content.

However, mopane trees also produce chemicals that can make the plant taste bad to elephants. Some chemicals produced by mopane trees inhibit the digestive processes of animals, and if eaten in a high enough proportion can be poisonous. This suggested to the authors that the elephants in the mopane covered north of the park prefer grasses for most of the year in order to avoid eating too much of the potentially toxic mopane leaves and bark.

Codron concludes that the research has shown that elephant dung can be used to rapidly compare elephant diets from different places and times to get an idea of changes in diet, which can help feed into management plans in areas where elephants might be impacting on woody plants.  [ send green star]
 July 22, 2007 6:23 AM

Elephants feel vibrations from the earth

Elephants will respond to signals transmitted through the earth without a sound whispering through the air. This has been shown by a team of scientists working at a waterhole in Etosha, Namibia, where they seismically transmitted a recording of a distress call to herds of wild elephants. The elephants showed defensive behaviour, clustering together and turning at a 90-degree angle to the source of the seismic signal before leaving the waterhole much faster than they would otherwise.
The findings were recently published in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. Although it has long been suspected that elephants "hear" seismic signals, the paper is the first to scientifically document that elephants hear and respond to impulses transmitted through the ground.

Insects, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals have all been shown to use seismic messages to communicate, but this is the first example published about large mammals. The researchers used an alarm call recorded several years previously when a breeding herd at the same waterhole encountered lions.

The recorded call was transformed into vibrations in the ground by special buried equipment, while a microphone checked that no audible noise was created. The same distress call, when played audibly over loudspeakers to herds at the waterhole, had caused a swift retreat.

The elephants' reaction to the seismic message was similar, but not as extreme. Debate is still ongoing as to how elephants receive seismic signals, but possibly the signal travels through the elephants via their toe bones to their middle ear, where one of the bones is able to receive seismic information. 

Other means of receiving ground vibrations could include special nerves in the elephant's feet (which have yet to be described by scientists) or by using some of the many nerves in the trunk when the trunk is placed on the ground.

The scientists performing the study, led by ecologist Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell, have experimentally determined that elephants might be able to receive seismic signals created by other elephants from up to 2km away. Other studies have said that depending on soil types, elephants could theoretically intercept seismic messages from up to 16km away.

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